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motorcycleMost personal injury claims are brought against individuals who caused harm or damages to another person. However, individuals are not the only defendants who may be held responsible when serious injuries or death occur. Sometimes corporations can be held accountable when their employees are acting within the scope of employment, or when other individuals are performing as agents of the corporation. A recent case before the West Virginia Court of Appeals looks at the unique question of whether a trust can also be sued for personal injury or wrongful death if its trustee commits a tort that leads to an injury.

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behind-bars-1469616-1279x1054When juveniles commit serious crimes in the United States, including in West Virginia, our Constitution affords them considerable protection against a lifetime spent in prison or death row. Recognizing that a juvenile’s decision-making abilities are often not fully matured when crimes occur, and that rehabilitation and support can be better goals than punishment, the Supreme Court has consistently held that juvenile offenders may not be sentenced to life imprisonment or death. A recent case in the Fourth Circuit clarifies that in circumstances in which a crime requires mandatory sentencing of life imprisonment or death, a juvenile may not be tried for the crime as an adult, no matter the circumstances.

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65901_hospital_corridor_3.jpgIf you’ve been injured in a car accident in West Virginia, you understand the dangers involved in such an incident. Each year, there are approximately 12,000 new spinal cord injuries in the United States. Of these, more than 40% are caused by motor vehicle accidents, according to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC). Although anyone can be injured in this way, young men ages 16-24 are at the greatest risk.

One of the repercussions of spinal cord injuries is loss of employment due to permanent disability from this type of injury. Although paralysis is a possibility, even cases in which paralysis isn’t a factor can cause people to lose their abilities to function normally. In turn, this forces many spinal cord injury victims to stop working, which causes great financial strain on families. Particularly in the case of families sustained by a single parent or families whose sole breadwinner is injured, loss of employment due to a permanent disability can be financially and emotionally devastating.

The NSCISC reports that, since 2005, 57.5% of people who suffered spinal cord injuries were employed full or part-time at the time of their injuries. Of those, only about 11% were back to work after one year of recovery. After 20 years, a full 20% were permanently disabled and never able to work again.

If you are seriously injured in a car accident in West Virginia and the other vehicle’s driver was at fault, the case should be simple and you can handle it on your own claim right? Wrong!

This cannot be further from the truth. In today’s environment where the economy is struggling, all companies, including insurance companies, are finding it difficult to increase the profit, which shareholders and executives demand. An insurance company makes money three ways, by consolidating offices, the physicals or bricks and mortar, through investments and premiums paid. The quicker way to increase profits is not to pay claim which can result in large short-term saving or need case. They do this by devaluing, delaying and denying claims.

In West Virginia, we are raised with a strong value system, and if you do something wrong, you accept responsibility for your actions. Well, insurance companies don’t follow these values, but value the dollar.

There has been a consistent national campaign in this country against citizens who have been injured, sometimes seriously, in accidents through no fault of their own. Part of the problem is the language which we use and what becomes are accepted views of our society. An example is the use of the word, “accident.”

How can a drunk driver or a driver who is speeding who wrecks and hurts someone be allowed to call this event an “accident”? It’s not an accident, but a wrongful injustice causing a preventable harm to an innocent person, but we let the world call it an “accident.”

We have been cleverly seduced by insurance companies to accept what they have pronounced as fact, that the American system of justice is in crisis and that most lawsuits are frivolous. I contend that to the mother whose car is crushed by a speeding, overloaded coal truck that her case is not frivolous.

Medicare is a federal program that pays for certain covered health care, for persons enrolled, who are age 65 and older or persons with certain disabilities. If you are in a car accident in West Virginia or injured in any personal injury accident, where medicare has paid for your injuries new federal laws have set out obligations for the injured person and their attorney.

Previously, your attorney had a duty to contact Medicare, if Medicare paid medical bills which was caused by the negligence of someone’s else and you recovered a settlement.

Now in order to ensure that Medicare can recover funds they have paid for your injures which an insurance company is responsible the government requires insurance companies to inform the government about your claim. Medicare in these situations is considered a secondary payer and liability insurance companies are required to collect and report data elements to Medicare, under Section 111 of the Mandatory Medicare Secondary Payer Reporting.

In West Virginia, a driver is required to carry at least $20,000 in uninsured motorist coverage, please see the insurance commissioner regulations. You can be in an accident and although you have insurance, the other party who is at fault, may not have any insurance.

According to the Insurance Research Counsel in the year 2006 for West Virginia, 9.7 percent of drivers were uninsured and 9 percent for the year 2008. Uninsured means they were driving an automobile without any insurance on the car. Currently in West Virginia almost one out of every 10 drivers on the roads are driving without insurance placing you and I at risk.

This is where uninsurance auto insurance coverage comes into play. Since the person who is at fault is without insurance or uninsured, your policy will pay for your damages, which includes lost wages, medial bills and pain and suffering. Therefore if a driver has uninsurance coverage in West Virginia they are protested? Sadly the answer is often no.

You are in a car accident in West Virginia, are hurt and decide not to hire a lawyer. The insurance company said you don’t need a lawyer and you reluctantly agreed. You settle your claim for an amount which is less than you feel you are entitled to, but want to get it over with.

You sign all the insurance company’s documents for your car accident without consulting an attorney and wait for your settlement check. When it arrives, the check is either less than the amount you agreed to or another party’s name is on the check.

Wait a minute you think, “I was the one hurt in the accident, why are these other people entitled to part of my settlement?” It is called subrogation and if you had hired an attorney, he could have explained it to you and protected your interest.